Why firing an employee is good for the employee (at times)

An organization is all about people and culture. These things define who we are and what we represent. For an organization to succeed, it is very important to have the right balance of people who are talented and who also fit very well into the culture. It is important to not compromise more on either of the aspects. In the long run, an expert who is completely a misfit to the org culture will do more bad than good. Similarly a very enthusiastic and culturally fit employee if [s]he does not have the chops to fulfill his/her “role and responsibility” is not going to fit well.

It is important to define what it means to identify whether a person fits into the culture and has the minimum skills required to be considered for recruitment. Every step of the recruitment process has to stress on the defined characteristics to make sure we eliminate or reduce chances of misfit individuals getting into the organization. It is the best place for an organization to eliminate misfits from getting in.

Well what we just defined is the “ideal situation” and we don’t live in an ideal world. Our needs dominate how we hire and during this process we cannot “absolutely” ensure that misfits will not enter through the cracks. Now comes the time where the organization has to consider how to define absolute “must have” characteristics and “good to have” characteristics. Again the idea is to not compromise on the “must haves” and be a little lenient on the “good to haves”.

One of the most important “must haves” to focus on during hiring is passion towards what the company is focusing on. In our case we are a technology company, so we look for hiring individuals who are passionate towards technology. A very passionate technologist will do more better in the long run on a technology [s]he does not even know much about today, than a person who knows the technology well but is not necessarily passionate about it. Passion brings in the eagerness to learn and do the best in whatever you take up. With that eagerness and with wanting to be the best, will give you enough motivation to BE AMONG THE BEST.

The second “must have” is the ability to focus on their core strengths. In the areas that they say they have invested time, they really be good at it. Understanding WHY is more important than WHAT? These days there are so many views around about a particular subject or a problem, if people don’t spend time in understanding the reasoning & concepts, it is easy to choose the wrong approach or wrong solution to solve a problem. Googling is good, but if you use the results at face value then good chance that when you face an issue, you don’t know how to solve it. So solving a problem without understanding how it is solved is a RECIPE FOR FAILURE. So on this topic again, if somebody spent some decent time and project a topic to be their core strength, should know more than what a tool does. They need to be able to articulate how/why that solution is better than any other possible solution that might exist in the market. Knowing what other solutions exist is also a key here. If the person did not consider alternatives then what they choose is not a thought through solution.

Thirdly you need to be aware of what’s happening in your area of expertise. If one is not up to date in the trade, what you know becomes obsolete soon. Again something pointing to passion to learn.

Fourthly, hires should be able to articulate what they know. The most important factor for an individual is to be able to sell themselves. The cost of having people providing oversight or be a mouth piece for somebody who is not articulative often is an overhead that organizations should avoid in most cases.

Finally, you need to hire people who believe, would love to involve and lead corporate cultural initiatives. It is important that people believe in what the corporate does and lend their hands and make these activities successful.

As pointed out earlier, while hiring, an organization should make sure that they don’t hire misfits. But if and when it happens, leaders should be absolutely focused on the organizations priorities. In most of the cases, the organization should invest on individuals to ensure they align themselves to the organization’s expectations. One of my colleagues had once said that everybody can learn anything, it is just that the time that they take to learn/adapt, that will be different. This is absolutely true if one definitely wants to put in the efforts and want to learn.

You can take the horse to the lake, but you cannot force it to drink. If people are passionate, they will get there in time, if not they will never get there. This investment should be bounded, both time and cost wise. If one invests their time not on their passion, then they will never do things with their heart. In that case it is in the interest of the employee that [s]he be LET GO. Extending the pain would take them away from what they are really passionate about and hence the organization is doing a favor in letting them not suffer.

Ashok Datla is the Client Principal at Compassites. He has 14 years of experience playing various roles in an IT delivery organization. He leads the software solution services pursuit, develops software solutions strategies and oversees delivery of complex engagements. Prior to joining Compassites, he has played various roles in technology and leadership front globally. He had lived in the Bay Area for over 11 years working with Pacific Stock Exchange, Wells Fargo and Stanford. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Karnataka University, India.

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